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Miniature golf courses are typically defined by whimsical themes and dynamic challenges, and a wide array of video games have captured the formula over the years -- but not quite like this. Rather than zoom in for a single hole across a larger map, Wonderputt puts nearly the entire course right in front of you from the start, with gorgeous visual design and fantastic animation that shows the world shifting to create new goals until the ball blasts off into space on the 18th hole.
How does it manage such a feat? Well, it's limited to the large iPad screen, which isn't surprising (that it doesn't run on the original iPad is, though), but mainly it accomplishes the task by reusing precious screen real estate multiple times across a single playthrough. What begins as a farm with grazing cows creating a path to the hole refreshes to generate a second such layout, which is then covered with snow to create an uphill/downhill hole, and then the snow melts to create a pair of pond-set courses wherein the ball skips like a stone between lilly pads.
Only once does the game deviate from that approach, launching a missile that then splits into its individual pieces to yield a pair of holes within its shell -- and it's a gorgeous little aside. In fact, every bit of the game is downright beautiful, from the course itself to the minimalistic menus. And tapping and pulling back to putt the ball works without issue, though the fixed angle can make for occasionally difficult shots, and a couple of the holes can feel particularly antagonistic in layout.
Ultimately, though, the game offers but a single course -- which is perfect for a dollar, though I would've loved to play much more. Wonderputt is more likely a game I'll come back to from time to time, rather than fixate on for long sessions, but this breezy putt-putter is well worth even those occasional dalliances. And with luck, it'll prove the template for further single-screen courses.
The bottom line. Light on content but heavy on style, Wonderputt offers a striking vision for modern, tablet-based miniature golf.
iPad 2 or new iPad running iOS 4.0 or later
Stunning visual design and animation. Nearly an entire mini-golf course on the screen.
Only one course included. Couple irritating hole designs in the bunch.